Famously quoted as the Pink City, Jaipur with its resplendent beauty can mesmerize any visitor. It is long known for its prowess, splendid palaces, turbaned men, luxurious hotels and culture. Born from this ethnic culture is the variety of souvenirs with their unique charm. This is often bewildering for travelers to the wonderful land to choose just which items they will take back home with them. The options are many, different as well as often inexpensive. The ethnic aura wraps up their simplest forms, making them a buyer’s delight.
The finest quality of crafts can often be traced inside the local markets that populate the Pink city. Starting from charming stores to wayside shops, merchandise with intricate carvings, minute mirror work, and colorful designs and shades are the identity of this fairyland of handicrafts. Strolling across the markets you find the different allies at Tripolia bazar each dedicated to specific crafts. There lies a street named Maniharon ka Rasta.
Maniharon Ka Bazaar is the best place to get fascinated by an array of colorful Lac bangles. The entire lane is the beating heart of the market and echoes with lit shops and bangle sellers make the bangles themselves. This is the reason the street is named after. The word ‘Manihar’ means ‘one who makes bangles’ and Maniharon ka Rasta is a lane of maniharas selling a variety of bangles, especially the ones made with Lacquer art.
What is Lac?
Lac or Lacquer is an exotic handcrafted tribal jewelry from Rajasthan, India, which is now the fashion rage of urban areas. This traditional craft has been passed down through generations. Therefore the skill of the artist still produces beautiful authentic Lac pieces.
Lac a natural scarlet resinous secretion obtained from a Lac-producing insect known as Laccifer lacca. These insects are cultivated to make Lac jewelry. The resin is secreted by the insect when the insects get accumulated over the branches and it feeds on host trees. This creates a hard coating over them. The resin is scraped off the coated bark of the tree. The harvested sticklac is crushed, sieved and washed several times to get rid of the impurities. It is further heated to remove more impurities. This leaves a deep red resin, the end product called shellac, which can be molded into a bangle.
The Process of making Lac bangles
A process of making lac bangles is quite tiresome, but includes less technology. It requires 9 different craftsmen and takes about 10 to 15 hours to get the desired result. Each craftsman has his own skill set and contributes towards the uniqueness of the piece. The designing work is done by the main artist.
Lac shellacs are melted in a vessel and when it is in a semi-molten state, the mixture is stirred & attached at the end of the wooden stick. Then the lac attached to the wooden is slowly heated with coal that is kept in the coal burner. When the lac starts heating & softening it is pressed against a metal plate, simultaneously in intervals with a flat wooden tool. Lac is malleable when heated so when the lac is warm and soft, the desired color is fused to it. The lac easily absorbs colors so the lac of the desired color is heated, melted and then evenly rubbed along the other lac to blend the color. After applying the color the craftsman rolls out the lac till a required length & thickness. Lac is mixed, kneaded, hammered and heated repeatedly to get the desired consistency. The dough is then rolled and shaped over the metal and fused to add strength to the bangle. After that, the crafted lac bangle is inserted into a wooden mandrel to give it a proper size & shape. With each precise detail and utmost attention, the bangles are gracefully created and finished. The designers then beautify them with inlaying some embellishments such as tiny glass, stones, crystals, pressing them into the silver foil depending upon the design. These are then sent off to the market.
History of Lac Jewellery
Over the years different empires like Rajputs and Mughals that ruled Rajasthan have influenced Lac jewelry designs. The king of Amer commissioned the Lac bangles under his patronage. He invited the craftsmen of Manoharpur from Uttar Pradesh. The manihar craftsmen shifted their base to Amer and from Amer to Jaipur. And that’s how this beautiful bangle dotted the Rajasthani culture. Today, Lac is exported all over the world. This exotic tribal jewelry has inspired jewelry designers to design Lac pieces with crystals and cubic zirconia.
Religious Significance of lac bangles
The lac bangles have their own entity in Rajasthan. It also has a religious significance attached to it. These lac bangles are considered very auspicious for girls when they step into womanhood or married life as a young bride. There are also some rituals and occasions which require wearing lac bangles as mandatory. Teej, Gangaur, Karwa Chauth are the major festivals on which traditional lac bangles are worn. A unique color combination of these traditional Lac bangles is much sought after. Numbers of maroon (or red) bangles paired with green bangles on either end of the set. This set is known as Gulali Chooda.
Variety of Lac Bangles
You can find bangles of every color you can imagine. From daily wear bangles and party wear to those designer lac bangles which perfectly suit any bride’s trousseau, there are endless options of bangles to woo you. The allure of these bangles is irresistible that you will end up picking a handful of them. And to your surprise, they cost barely anything as compared to the effort involved in making them. These bangles cost you about 150 rupees for plain lac bangles and around 200 to 250 rupees for the beaded ones. Some of the shops even let you get custom made bangles with desired size, colors, and embellishments.
Accessorize with Lac Jewelry
Lac is a must-have in every jewelry box. The wide range of colors found in Lac blend very well with several outfits. Be it formal, casual or chic wear, no ethnic wear is complete without bangles. This intricate and delicate jewelry is something every woman proudly wears. These are the best match with traditional leheriya and bandhani pattern outfits. Wearing different colored Lac bangles and combine them with gold, silver or metal bangles adds panache to your look.
So, on your next trip to Jaipur, don’t miss strolling down this dazzling street. Your eyes will surely shine with a glimpse of the scintillating set of bangles. It is said that Lac Bangles bring good luck. Every visitor leaves Jaipur with priceless memories and happiness. Buying these lac bangles you will be sure to carry home several boxes of good luck.
The highlight of Lac bangles
The lac bangles are very versatile. Once broken, they can be rejoined with heating it mildly and a slight fabrication is done over a wooden mold. However, the process of rejoining or resizing can only be done for 8 to 10 times.
Location of Maniharon ka Rasta
It is located just 10 minutes away from the Hawa Mahal road. You will find this lane starting from the Tripolia Bazar, which is close to Isargat and Tripolia Gate.